From Iceland — Constitutional Referendum Criticised

Constitutional Referendum Criticised

Published November 12, 2012

Voices of criticism from within the academic community have arisen over the constitutional referendum held last month.
Last October’s historic referendum decided, among other things, that the Icelandic people want to see the Constitutional Council’s draft submitted to parliament. The vote received international attention, and was taken by many as a sign of democratic progress.
However, some have said that the referendum was flawed, and that parliament should not even be voting on the entire constitutional draft, RÚV reports.
There were six questions on the referendum altogether, wherein respondents were asked questions including natural resources, the national church, and the voting system. Björg Thorarensen, a professor of law at the University of Iceland, said she felt that the questions posed by the referendum were too vague. For this reason, she argues, members of parliament will not be able to accurately gauge what the will of the people is when the time comes to vote on the constitutional draft.
Björg contends furthermore that parliament should not be voting on the entire constitutional draft, but rather over those articles where a consensus might be reached. Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a professor of political science at the University of Iceland, took matters a step further by criticising the National Assembly – the national meeting held in 2009 wherein average citizens first discussed what changes they would like to see made to the constitution.
Gunnar likened the National Assembly to “an inexact opinion poll”, adding that no other Nordic country has as many radical articles as there are proposed for what may be Iceland’s next constitution.

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